Corruption Thwarts Access to Birth Records at Council Clinics

Unbridled corruption at Council Clinics has rendered many children “nameless” as some health personnel are demanding bribes in order to issue out birth records to newborn children, and sadly those who can’t comply with the bribery demands are not given the record. Birth records are a prerequisite for acquiring birth certificates.

Reports from women who gave birth at Council clinics in high density suburbs of Glenview, Mabvuku and Highfields allege that the health personnel demanded bribes ranging between $USD5-10$USD in order to issue out birth records.

“I gave birth six months ago at Highfields polyclinic but I was not given a birth record for my child, the nurses are demanding USD$5”, said a dejected Highfields woman.

At a recently held Maternal Health Meeting in Mabvuku hosted by CHRA, scores of women made submissions that they were failing to access birth records and child health cards for their newborn children.

The women called for the intervention of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission to intervene and appealed for a legal intervention on the matter. “This is getting out of hand can ZACC intervene or legal action be taken”, Said Prudence Hanyani from Ward 19 Mabvuku.

It also emerged that the clinic health personnel are creating an artificial shortage of birth record books as a strategy of coercing desperate mothers to solicit for bribes.

Another woman at the meeting said, “I was told that we do not have birth records at the clinic by a nurse, and every time I go there the statement remains the same.”

However, a senior official in the Health Department indicated that birth records were available at the Council Clinics in abundance. “I have confirmed with all clinics in the City birth records and child birth cards are available at all Council clinics that offer maternal health services”, said the official.

According to Council policy the registration fees which women pay to access maternal health services include provision of birth records and child birth cards without an extra payment.

The mothers lamented that the delay or non-issuance of birth records was standing in their way of accessing birth certificates which officially records names of their children. Section 81(1) (b) and (c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe allows every child to be given a name and family name, and to the prompt provision of a birth certificate.

Corruption has become a common practice at most council clinics and has seriously impacted on access to maternal and other health care services in Harare.

CHRA calls upon the Harare City Council to investigate this issue and to take reasonable action as the situation has gone out of hand.

Source: Combined Harare Residents Association

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